Leaders: Charlie Knapke, David Eisenberg
I have known about this peak for several years now. It looked like an interesting peak but it had one major problem. There was no public access.
Weldon Peak is about 4 miles directly south of Sorrell Peak in Section 2 of our list. It is 1-1/2 miles south of the southern most edge of the Sequoia National Forest. The peak is actually on public land administered by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM).
If you look at the Sequoia National Forest map you will find the public and private land segments form a kind of checkerboard in this area. This originated back in the early days of the National Forest system. The railroads were granted land rights in one square mile segments. I've never heard the reason for this system. As chance would have it, Weldon Peak sets on one of these pieces of isolated sections of public land.
In the last few years, the BLM in cooperation with the U.S. Forest Service has been planning and building the Pacific Crest Trail through this area. Actually the BLM plans their section, arranges easements trough private sections and then contracts out the work. The section of the PCT which passes Weldon Peak has now been completed. Thanks to an easement arranged by the BLM through private ranch land just north of the peak, it is now possible to climb Weldon Peak via public access.
Learning this I arranged to lead an exploratory hike to this peak. On Saturday morning, 13 of us met the mouth of Jawbone Canyon north of Mojave. We caravanned up Jawbone Canyon road, down through Kelso Valley and then up Geringer Grade to the top of the ridge. A little ways past the Saunders Ranch Junction is a short road that leads to a small pile of rocks and a parking area. This is where our hike began.
After signing in, we went west downhill a few hundred feet to the PCT. We turned south (left) on the PCT and followed it less than a mile to where we came across a BLM easement stake. A short distance further we merged with a dirt road which accesses the ranches in the area. Keeping on this road we went another mile to a road fork with a sign 'Bear Creek Ranch' pointing to the right. Turning right, we went a few hundred feet to where the PCT leaves the road and heads south. Less than a half mile later we were back on public land. After passing a ridge we left the PCT and headed left up a gully toward the peak itself. We came out on a wide wooded saddle just south of the peak. We explored the bump just south of here first and then went back north to the named peak. There are two high points. Both lie between the same two topo lines. The west point is a wide wooded point which was nothing spectacular. The south point we judged to be slightly higher and is a fifth class rock. Since there was no sign of a bench mark we decided to place a register at the base of the south point. We climbed up a short third class section to an area twenty feet below the high point. We had a great view to the south and of Kelso Valley to the east. We had a short break here.
On the way back we discussed one of a couple of animal trails which headed off to the north side. I decided that it would be too difficult to tell where these trails crossed into private land. We decided to go back the same way we came. We went back down to the PCT and then back to the cars via the BLM easement. It should be possible to hike this peak via the PCT from Hwy. 58 to the south. This may take a couple of days.
We also climbed Sorrell Peak and drove out to Piute Lookout the same day. On Piute we met a ranger from the Greenhorn Ranger District. During our talk with him we learned that a trail proposal for Split Mountain was going to be added to the National Forest Plan for that area. (This doesn't necessarily mean it will actually happen.) Thanks goes to Alan Coles for actually proposing that trail.
Sunday we got an early start and hiked Skinner Peak from the north. Both days were very nice. We had worried about the hot weather we had experienced lately but all four of these peaks are fairly high among the pines and made a good July outing.
I would like to thank David for his assistance. I hope to lead another trip to this peak next year.
While on the subject of new trails, I would like to point out that a well written letter by one individual (Alan Coles) did have a significant effect on the Forest Service planning procedure. Our officially adopted trail, the Haynes Canyon Trail, lies within the Tujunga Ranger District of the Angeles National Forest. This ranger district's Forest Plan is open for public comment. I urge anyone who is interested to write the Tujunga Ranger District to show interest in this trail. Contact Bobcat Thompson for the address.